ROSWELL, NM — Kilgore College needed a late push and some help to make the playoffs, but when Rangers got into the Final Four they made it look easy.
Led by a hard ground attack and another dominant defensive display, the Rangers rolled past the defending champion New Mexico Military Institute (39-12) at Saturday’s Wool Bowl to win the Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship.
The Rangers (8-3) made the four-team tournament as the No. 4 seed after winning their season finale against Blinn and beating Navarro Tyler. Kilgore then made his way to blow out the No. 1 seed Trinity Valley before making the long trip to New Mexico on Saturday to upend the No. 2 seed NMMI.
NMMI falls to 8-3 with the loss. Both teams are awaiting news of possible bowl invites.
Donerio Davenport carried 19 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns to set Kilgore the way. His efforts put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 1,064 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Kaden Meredith added 12 carries for 66 yards. Judah Holtzclaw rushed for 32 yards and one touchdown and also completed 9 of 20 passes for 179 yards. Willie McCoy caught three passes for 30 yards and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
The KC defense, led by Derick Mourning’s eight tackles and two sacks, walked away with three turnovers to give them 11 takeaways in their last two games. The defense also got involved with an interception return for a goal by Vincent Paige.
NMMI came on the board first with a 31-yard field goal from William Testa, but Rangers reeled off 17 straight points to take control of things.
Davenport put the Rangers in the lead with a 15-yard touchdown run at the 1016 mark of the first quarter, and Christopher Baldazo started a 23-yard field goal at 5:57 as KC was 10-3 at halftime took the lead.
McCoy opened the second half with a 90-yard kickoff return for a goal, and after Testa made it 17-6 with a 38-yard field goal, Rangers got a 19-yard TD run from Davenport, a 2-yard touchdown run past Holtzclaw and a 50-yard interception return from Paige with just under a minute left in the third to build a comfortable 36-6 lead.
Kolby King’s 32-yard field goal late in the fourth made it 39-6, and NMMI topped the goal with a 4-yard TD run from Au’mhryaun Brown to make the finals 39-12.
The win avenged a previous loss to NMMI for the Rangers, who conceded a 31-24 decision to the Broncos on Sept. 17 at Longview’s Lobo Stadium.
Kilgore now leads the overall series with NMMI, 6-3.